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Legal void allows post-mortem sperm extraction

An expert performs in-vitro fertilization.
An expert performs in-vitro fertilization.

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Imagine the sudden death of a young husband, the promise of a future together snatched away — except for his sperm, an ethically dubious option for having a family with the one you loved.

As discussed in The Atlantic, the practice of post-mortem sperm extraction has been occurring for years. Extraction by several methods is possible because sperm remains viable for approximately 48 hours after death.

Even so, how ethical is it to extract living sperm from a dead body with the intent of conception? How much psychological impact can it have on a child? Why aren't reproductive tissues and organs included in organ donor decisions?


Judith Daar, Professor at Whittier Law School, Clinical Professor at UCI School of Medicine and current Chair of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine Ethics Committee

Naomi R. Cahn, Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at The George Washington University Law School and author of, “Test Tube Families: Why the Fertility Market Needs Legal Regulation